Dopamine cell loss and increased iron in the substantia nigra (SN) characterize Parkinson's disease (PD), with cerebellar involvement increasingly recognized, particularly in motor compensation and levodopa-induced dyskinesia (LID) development. Because the red nucleus (RN) mediates cerebellar circuitry, we hypothesized that RN iron changes might reflect cerebellum-related compensation, and/or the intrinsic capacity for LID development. We acquired high resolution magnetic resonance images from 23 control and 38 PD subjects (12 with PD and history of LID [PD+DYS]) and 26 with PD and no history of LID (PD-DYS). Iron content was estimated from bilateral RN and SN transverse relaxation rates (R2*). PD subjects overall displayed higher R2* values in both the SN and RN. RN R2* values correlated with off-drug Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale-motor scores, but not disease duration or drug dosage. RN R2* values were significantly higher in PD+DYS compared with control and PD-DYS subjects; control and PD-DYS subjects did not differ. The association of higher RN iron content with PD-related dyskinesia suggests increased iron content is involved in, or reflects, greater cerebellar compensatory capacity and thus increased likelihood of LID development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1497-1503
Number of pages7
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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